I had this deliciously simple and very tasty snack late at night when I was in Palermo in Sicily, where it was being grilled in a square near some late-night drinking haunts. Despite the freezing February weather, everyone was drinking and eating outside, with many people huddled around large barbecue grills where lots of tasty things were being cooked. The air was thick with the smoke and aromas of cooking food, and there were hungry partygoers hopping from foot to foot expectantly, waiting for their bread rolls to be removed from the grill.
– 24 scallions (green onions), trimmed and peeled.
– good-quality olive oil.
– 16 thin pancetta slices.
– 2 lemons, cut into wedges.
– crushed dried red chilies.
– a few fresh basil or arugula leaves (optional).
– fresh Italian bread such as ciabatta or.
– focaccia, or other crusty bread rolls.
– salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: On a clean work surface, lay out two strips of pancetta side by side, with the long sides together. Repeat with all the pancetta, so that you have a bit of a production line. Place 3 scallions at one end of each of the pancetta strips, and roll the pancetta tightly around the scallions to cover. Grill on a preheated hot barbecue or grill pan, or under a hot broiler, for a couple of minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Transfer to a cutting board, and cut into small ¾in (2cm) chunks. (Cutting up the scallions makes them much easier to eat.).
Step 3: Split open a crusty bread roll and put the scallion pieces inside. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top, and sprinkle with a few crushed chilies. Add a few basil or arugula leaves. Sandwich the filled roll together, and place on the barbecue or under the broiler for a couple of minutes each side so that it is toasted.
Step 4: Eat at once, with your sleeves rolled up and lots of paper napkins on hand. This dish is ideal as part of a summer picnic or barbecue, or as a starter before the main meat or fish is grilled. Alternatively, chop the grilled scallion into pieces, pile on top of crostini, drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with chopped basil or arugula. Season with the lemon and crushed chilies, and eat with your fingers.